Deadly Ecuador prison riot as gang seeks 'total control'
At least 20 inmates have been killed in the latest deadly riot to erupt in a jail in Ecuador.
Officials said the clashes in El Turi jail had stopped after 1,000 members of the security forces were deployed, but that the inmates had yet to be disarmed.
The interior minister said violence broke out as one gang tried to gain "total control" of the prison.
Ecuador has seen a huge rise in prison violence in recent years.
Last year, 320 inmates were killed in riots and prison gang violence.
Residents reported hearing screams coming from the cell blocks in the early hours of Sunday local time.
Relatives of inmates said they had received phone calls from their loved ones describing how members of a gang tried to storm wings holding rival gang members.
Analysts have blamed the recent spike in prison violence on the infiltration of Ecuadorean gangs by powerful transnational crime cartels.
There are reports that some of the bodies found in El Turi had been mutilated, a tactic commonly used by Mexican crime cartels to instil fear in their rivals.
Interior Minister Patricio Castillo said that the ringleaders behind the riot had been identified and would lose all prison benefits they might have enjoyed.
He added that Ecuador would not allow any more violence and that it would "drain the cesspit" which the prison system had become.
In a BBC interview in November, Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso insisted that his government was regaining control not only of the prisons, but also of areas of Ecuador where drug traffickers had gained a foothold.
He accused previous governments of being "passive" about drug trafficking, but warned that rising drug use in the country would take "more than a decade" to tackle.